Better Than Restaurant Falafel (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Better Than Restaurant Falafel! MinimalistBaker.com

I’ve been waiting patiently to share this recipe with you guys and I can’t take it any longer. On a total whim, I somehow crafted a falafel recipe that’s better than any version you’ve likely had at a restaurant. Unless it was in Greece, then I’ll give you a pass. But the best part? It’s vegan, gluten free, and chock full of healthy ingredients.

Collard Greens

I started with collard greens, a green I was completely unfamiliar with prior to this recipe. Next I added in chickpeas, sea salt, pepper, garlic, fresh lemon juice and tahini. The funny thing is, I was aiming for more of a “veggie fritter” but one bite in and I knew it was falafel heaven all the way.

Better Than Restaurant FalafelCollard Green Tahini Falafel | Vegan Gluten Free

As always, ingredients are simple and to the point and minimal equipment is required: food processor and one pan. They also come together in about 30 minutes. Hello easy, healthy weeknight meal.

Gluten Free Vegan Falafel

I made up one big batch last week and I’ve been having one or two here and there as a quick snack or easy lunch. I’m gluten free right now for a cleanse I’m doing (a story for another day), but these would go fabulous tucked inside fluffy pita with lettuce, tomato and a creamy garlic sauce. I just know it. Otherwise, they’re fantastic on their own with just a spot of hummus.

Healthy Falafel RecipeBetter Than Restaurant Falafel!

These little guys are amazing, and I don’t use that word lightly! I am so surprised at how healthy and simple they are, yet how packed with flavor they are. They are crispy and flavorful on the outside, tender on the inside, and loaded with bursts of lemon, garlic and tahini in each bite. I highly recommend serving these with freshly made hummus – my favorite homemade recipe – or they’re delicious on their own. Simply don’t pass up this recipe! It’s one of my most proud kitchen accomplishments to date.

Vegan Gluten Free FalafelHealthy Falafel! vegan, gluten free with Collard Greens

4.5 from 35 reviews
Better Than Restaurant Falafel (Vegan & Gluten Free)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Falafel that can rival any restaurant, although it remains vegan, gluten free and pan-cooked, not fried.
Author:
Recipe type: Entre
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 cups stemmed and torn collard greens (one bunch), or swiss chard
  • 1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium to large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 3-4 Tbsp oat flour (ground from gluten free oats)
  • ~ 4 Tbsp grapeseed or olive oil for cooking
Instructions
  1. Add collard greens, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and a healthy pinch each salt and pepper to a food processor and mix to combine (see photo).
  2. Once well incorporated, transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in oat flour 1 Tbsp at a time until the mixture is thick enough to handle - about 3-4 Tbsp.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added more salt, pepper and lemon juice, and a touch more tahini.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp oil at a time. Swirl to coat pan.
  5. Add 4 falafel (or however many will fit very comfortably) to the pan at a time.
  6. Check at the 1-2 minute mark to ensure they're not browning too quickly. If they are, slightly reduce heat. Flip once deep golden brown - about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Cook until the underside is golden brown as well.
  8. Serve immediately with hummus and paprika, or inside a pita with garlic sauce or hummus.
  9. Will store in the fridge, layered with parchment paper in an airtight container, for several days. Freeze to keep longer.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 falafel Calories: 154 Fat: 7 g Carbohydrates: 17 g Sugar: 2 g Sodium: 50 mg Fiber: 5 g Protein: 5 g

Nutrition is a rough estimate for one falafel.
Adapted from Real Simple.
 

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Comments

  1. Bridgett says

    I just wanted to say thank you for giving us a healthy option of falafel…It is absolutely delicious! adding cilantro and spring onions or red onions will also boost up the flavor a bit as well! I did want to give a tip to others out there that may have the same problem as me with browning…3/4 of my 1st batch were burnt within 2 minutes using the med-high setting as indicated above and even after lowering it to medium. I have an electric maytag stove and the perfect setting for this was 4, which is 2 settings below medium. They turned out perfect after that! you can also pop them in the oven at about 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes after browning or w/o browning =)

    • says

      Thanks so much for the comment, Bridgett! I’ve cooked this recipe in several different kitchens and all oven tops and skillets seem to cook differently! So thanks for these tips as well as sharing your experience in baking them. So helpful!

  2. Heather says

    Hi there, just a a quick question! ..If I don’t have oat flour, what other kinds can I use? Right now, in my cupboard, I have whole-wheat flour and all-purpose unbleached flour and I think some bread flour. Thanks!

  3. Marz says

    I’ve just made them and while frying they were falling apart so I transferred them to the oven. I wonder if anyone else had this problem? I’m thinking what I did wrong. Maybe too much tahini or too much oil?

  4. says

    Just made these, so DAMN good!!!!! Made some spicy hummus and threw the falafel on a gluten free wrap, hummus and fresh coleslaw mix (no dressing) by far one of the best meals i have ever cooked myself! can’t wait to wow friends with it!!!! thanks.

  5. Vendela says

    This recipe seems awesome. I have one question though, and I don’t know how stupid it is and if I need to ask it because my native language is not English and/or because I am tired and/or because I am relatively new at cooking. But I can’t make sense of these steps:

    4. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add 2 msk oil at a time. Swirl to coat pan.
    5. Add 4 falafel (or however many will fit very comfortably) to the pan at a time.

    What am I supposed to do with the skillet really? Only add oil to it when there is no falafel in it or is it implied that I am putting the falafel in it too? How many falafel “bits” am I supposed to do and when? Before the pan or the skillet?

    Thanks for reading this! I feel like my question is ridiculous…
    /Vendela

      • says

        Sounds like you figured it out! Let me know if you have any more questions, Vendela!! P.S. I visited Orebro, Sweden earlier this year and LOVED it. Beautiful country you live in!

        • Vendela says

          Hi again,

          thanks for the reply! It’s not the measurement standard that is the problem, however, but I don’t know what to do with the skillet and the pan as I wrote above – are those the same thing? :P

          Glad to hear you like Sweden, it’s a bit dark at this time of the year – hopefully it will snow soon :)

          • Olga says

            Yes, they are the same thing. a skillet is also called a frying pan, sometimes it is shortened to pan. Don’t be embarrassed, English is not my first language either, so I also have trouble when Americans do this.

  6. Laurie says

    I made these and had trouble keeping them from crumbling in the frying pan. I know they are meant to be vegan, but i think an egg would have helped a lot.

    • says

      Laurie, they are definitely tender and take some careful handling so yes, an egg would help. I opted not to keep them vegan. But baking them in the oven (perhaps 10-15 min at 400 F) may help keep them from crumbling. Hope that helps!

  7. says

    I made these yesterday for a family get-together. The only thing I changed about the recipe was that, having doubled it, I decided to use the oven rather than pan-fry. That part worked great, though it took them a little longer than I expected. Something that surprised me was that they tasted best as “dough”, and that before adding any oat flour. Once cooked, I felt they had taken on a little bitterness, which is odd. Well, never mind. They were still good enough to eat. The husband had made a super spicy raw tomato and bread crumb sauce for some potato tapas which went great with these, plus some tahini sauce.

  8. Lindsay Lucarlli says

    I didn’t have Swiss chard or collard greens, so I used kale. I also added a teaspoon of chopped garlic and 1/4 tsp of coriander.

  9. Jennifer says

    I just made these, and the flavor is fantastic. One BIG word of caution – DO NOT OVER PROCESS! I made the mistake of pureeing the mix before adding the flour and ended up having to use 1 CUP of oat flour just to handle them. I also ended up using more oil than I needed to just to get them to crisp up (which they did, beautifully). I also finished them in a 400 degree oven for 9 minutes just to cook the flour all the way through. This of course meant that the seasonings needed to be upped as well, so more salt and cumin were added to the batter. Other than my rookie mistake, these are really delicious and I will try them again once this batch is finished.

  10. Dominique says

    Hi Im planning to use j this recipe over the weekend and just raised I have dried chick peas rather than canned and was wondering what the weight of the chickpeas was once they were rinsed and drained? I can’t find any chickpeas that are canned that are the same weight as the ones used in the recipe.
    Thanks for your help

    • says

      Dominique, excellent question! I speculate that the weight is roughly 12 ounces post draining. The good thing is this recipe is fairly forgiving, so it shouldn’t matter too much if you’re an ounce off. Hope that helps!

  11. says

    I just tried this with you hummus recipe. I love the hummus and am in like with the falafel. I think I over processed the mixture my Cuisinart because I had to use way more flour than what was instructed. I cooked them way longer because I couldn’t seem to get the middles cooked through. I think I’ll try again in the oven though because I am close to making it work out. Thank you for the cool recipes. I never thought to add collard greens (Or greens of any type). And I love the parsley addition to the hummus.

  12. mireaux says

    I just made these tonight and ate them in lettuce wraps with smoked tomato basil hummus and tomato. I haven’t cooked something good for myself in so long and it was a real treat. Thank you very much!

  13. Tessa says

    Made this last night and it was delicious. I was worried that the collard flavor would be too strong but it wasn’t. Served it with a lightened up tahini sauce from oh she glows. I used soaked dry chickpeas instead of canned. Used quick soad method of 1 minute boiling and then left them for 8 hours.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • says

      Nice! I’ve been experimenting with a cashew based garlic sauce that I think would be great on these little dudes. Will share soon! Thanks for sharing your experience, Tessa!

  14. Amy Greenlaw says

    Hello,
    I tried making these and they didn’t cook all the way through and the whole house was starting to smoke when cooking them.
    Also I used brown rice flour.

    Do you think I could bake them to get the middle’s cooked?

    Thanks,
    Amy

    • says

      Amy, I’m not certain but brown rice flour might be the culprit. Next time, since you had trouble mainly in the cooking process, I would suggest baking these at 375 for 20-25 minutes and flipping once halfway through. This should help!

  15. Amanda says

    These look great! I can’t wait to try them =) Recipe says it makes 4 servings, and nutrition says 1 falafel is about 154 calories….Should it be 1 serving (3 falafels) is 154 calories?

    • Dana Shultz says

      Amanda, sorry for any confusion. Yes, it serves 4 people, but each falafel has about 154 calories. Hope that helps!

  16. Taylor says

    These are great! I love that they are so simple and easy to make. I had a ton of beet greens laying around after making your vegan lava cakes (!!!) for v-day and this was the perfect recipe to use them up!

  17. B.P. says

    I loved the use of collard greens. We use spinach, carrots and zucchini in our felafels usually, just salt a little to get the veggies to give up their water. I have read a lot of recipies lately and I am wondering why people are using grain flours instead of besan, aka chickpea flour, my nanous would twist my ear for adding anything but besan. Its gluten free after all.

  18. Stacie says

    I promised to stalk you and here I am… Laying in bed, stuffed full of falafel and hummus (and black bean brownie – had to make a new batch because I gave them all away!) I gave up making my own hummus because I couldn’t find a decent recipe. This hummus recipe is perfect for me. Love it. Now, I can’t say I’ve ever had a falafel before, or at least it wasn’t memorable, so I have no falafel experience for comparison. I can say that I devoured these scrumptious greenies up like someone was going to steal them… No joke, I stopped to breathe only once. Clearly I MUST continue to stalk you. ;)

  19. says

    I made these tonight and they were excellant!

    I did not have any oats on hand to grind so I just used regular flour and I did not have an Tahini so I use a bit of egg. I followed all the other directions/ingrediants and I loved them! I made a taziki sauce and we had them in a pita with lettuce and tomato! So yummy!

    xo Jennifer

  20. Sophie says

    Hi there,
    I couldn’t find any collard greens or chard so used kale instead. Totally scrumptious thank you for the delicious recipe !!

    • Dana Shultz says

      It may affect the flavor and it will require a little less than the suggested amount, but yes! I think it would work!

  21. Gizem says

    I usually use your recipes. They always work good !

    but,
    am I wrong or you really did not cooked chickpeas? Only soaking does not sound logical to me. Could you please make it clear?

    • Dana Shultz says

      Yes! They were cooked! I used canned chickpeas, but if you’re using dry make sure to cook them first!

  22. Rayca says

    Funny, people talking about rating system and soft on inside. Soft on inside is just what I’m looking for. Crunchy or hard on outside. I don’t care if they’re fritters. Those are good too. I rate recipes on the ingredients and my perception of how it will turn out. I then come back and give my review after I’ve tried it, giving suggestions that I may have tried. Guess I’m doing that wrong. Having said that, I’m giving 5 stars cuz I’m a good enough cook to know how they will taste and turn out.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Thanks Rayca! And thanks for your insights, too. Super helpful. Appreciate the honest review and so glad it turned out for you! Cheers.

  23. Christina says

    I’m not sure what I missed here. Maybe it’s because I don’t normally eat vegan, but these did not taste good to me. I even liked the puree well enough raw (though I found nearly overwhelmed by the collard greens), but once it was cooked, the falafel took on a bitter, alkaline flavor. So non-vegans, take note: this probably won’t work well for your palate.

    • cactusren says

      I’m not vegan (though my boyfriend is, so I do frequently eat vegan food), but I thought these were amazing and would recommend them to vegans and meat-eaters alike. They didn’t seem bitter at all, especially considering the amount of greens in them (I used kale). I’d say they’re a great way of disguising dark greens for those who don’t particularly like them.

  24. says

    I can’t get collard greens where I am, nor can I get lemons, so I used parsley instead of collard greens, and lime instead of lemon. Also, I started with dried garbanzos that I cooked and I used the water I cooked the garbanzos in to blend them with the rest of the ingredients. It did not turn out well. Next time perhaps I need to drain the water off and I think I will use chard instead of collard greens, and I will skip the citrus. I think if I had actually followed the recipe it would have been delicious. My version is two stars, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and rate this five stars.

  25. Dax says

    I can’t wait to try this. My friend the Greek Vegan (www.greekvegan.com) has a wonderful recipe for revithokeftedes. By the way, though the recipe sounds great, I do need to correct the comment in the blog post about falafel and Greece. Falafel is a Middle-Eastern dish, not a Greek one. Revithokeftedes is the similar (but not exactly the same) Greek chickpea patty. Just a small point.

    Thanks!
    Dax

  26. lauren says

    I just made these based on the awesome reviews. I fried them first and then baked them to make them crispier. They were WAAAAY too bitter and green tasting for me. Maybe I did it wrong?? I followed the recipe exactly… It says 1 bunch of collard greens, that seems to have been a lot. Next time I will substitute some other veggies in there? What do you think?? Are they supposed to be this bitter?

  27. Andrea says

    I cannot BEGIN to tell you how happy I am {and how full my other half’s belly is} since the stars aligned and I found your website! We are on a culinary adventure, hoping that food can help heal my insides in a way that Western medicine has failed to do thus far. I have Crohn’s Disease and both R. and I have been on the roller-coaster that is my health and we have turned to a vegan diet as a means to try and regain some of that control back. It has been difficult, as prior to this, I was not very eager to try new things in the kitchen and I had very little confidence that what I was making would be tasty as well as healthy. Enter this website. I love, LOVE how you take wonderful, beautiful, healthful dishes and somehow make me believe that I can attempt to recreate them at home! You have a real gift and I thank you for sharing it with us. I have just made the hummus recipe you recommended above as well as these oh-my-sweet-good-gracious-I-would-eat-the-batter-with-a-spoon Falafel recipe for dinner tonight {I substituted mustard greens instead of collard, and a Tbsp of organic, hulled sunflower seeds with a few drops of sesame oil instead of the tahini because that’s what was in my pantry} and I will be proud to serve them tonight. Thank you again for your imagination, your sheer brilliance with making the food come alive through photography and your sublime palate. I look forward to your next creation.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Thank you so much for the kind words! So glad you’ve found encouragement and recipes here that are healing and healthy for you! Thanks for sharing! Cheers.

  28. Lisa says

    Usually not a fan of vegan food but these falafels were great! While frying them I didn’t really know if I was using enough oil but they turned out splendid, I wish a garlic white sauce came along with this recipe because I tried to make my own and failed miserably.

  29. Deb Broday says

    Can you tell me what I can substitute the tahinin with? My daughter is allergic to nuts, sesemi seeds and gluten – among other things. Would like to try this and the hummas.

  30. Andrea says

    With just a bit of oil in the pan, these turned out tasting a bit too raw greens-ish for me to call them falafel. Since we cooked our chickpeas from dried I should have stuck the greens in the boiling chickpea water to blanch them for a few minutes when the chickpeas were about done.

    Still.. pretty tasty, healthy and especially good inside homemade pitas.

  31. Amanda says

    these were PHENOMENAL. I used olive oil and peanut butter instead of tahini because that’s what I had, and I made a little sauce using mayonnaise, lemon, parsley, and black pepper. so in love!

  32. Julie says

    I made these last night and the flavor was totally fantastic! I did have some problems with them staying together during cooking though. I added about double the lemon juice and skipped the flour entirely in a (misguided??) effort to get them to stick together, but then I added an egg and they cooked up just fine (I’m veg, but not vegan). I also wound up subbing peanut butter for the tahini since we were out, and that was perfectly delicious. Thank you, I will definitely make these again!

  33. Kati says

    Hello! Not sure if someone has already asked, but wondering how large each falafel is (in inches, let’s say). 154 calories per falafel seems a bit heavy considering they are almost 50% greens! Thanks!

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